Increase in online enrollment could work

Column

President John Bardo’s plan to increase online enrollment could work to increase overall enrollment at Wichita State.

The university recently established the Office of Online Learning, with Mark Porcaro serving as interim director.

Of course, WSU has offered online courses for several years now, but the powers-that-be of WSU want to grow the effort, and the new Office of Online Learning will help with that.

Tony Vizzini, vice president for academic affairs, has said there is not adequate online substitute for students working with instructors, but that online learning could help students and the university grow.

Vizzini is spot-on with that statement. Online courses can be highly convenient for the busy college student. I’ve taken one online class (the class was only offered as such), and it worked well with my schedule.

Online classes that work do so by having a competent instructor teach the class on a week-by-week basis. My professor clearly outlined the course schedule on a week-by-week basis and it was clear when assignments were due, which made it successful for me.

In addition, a successful online class works like a regular class — instead of giving out all the assignments at once and let students do them at their own pace, a successful online class runs like a regular class would: with assignments posted every week and tests administered every couple of weeks.

I also support Bardo’s intention to establish some full degree online programs. Exclusively taking online classes for a degree works fantastically for anyone too busy to attend regular class, but still want to earn a college degree.

While I think the traditional classroom is better than online because of the personal relationship built with teachers and students, I also understand why full degree online programs can work for others.

I’m interested to see how a full degree online program would work. It may work exactly like a traditional degree program would, or it could be completely the opposite. Only time will tell. Until then, slowly building full degree online programs should be praised — it could work, and work well.